City council hires new finance director

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Ironton now has a new person at the helm of its financial operations. Robin Robinson was appointed as the city’s new finance director during the Thursday night meeting of the Ironton City Council.

Council chairman Chuck O’Leary said that Robinson, one of several candidates interviewed by the city, had several good references from former employers.

“She came back with a sterling background with 17 years in accounting,” O’Leary said. “This was the best candidate that we’ve come up with.”

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Robinson is a former employee of C.A. Rambacher & Co., a professional accounting firm.

Since he had not been present for the hiring meetings, councilman Richard Price asked to be excused from the vote. However, the vote had to be unanimous and councilman Butch Huff did not vote to excuse Price.

The position has been open since last month, when long-time finance director Cindy Anderson resigned from her position after being admonished by the city in executive session for missing a meeting.

Huff said that he had contacted Anderson about exploring the possibility of returning to her job, but his calls were not returned.

Stormwater changes

One of the key issues that was on the table at the meeting was a change to the way the city collects money for its combined sewer overflow long-term control plan. Under then new plan, put forth by councilman Leo Johnson, residents would pay an extra $2 per month for every 1,000 gallons of water. Formerly, residents and businesses had been charged a flat rate of $14.55 per month. The ordinance received first reading at the meeting.

Johnson responded during the meeting to charges made by city engineer Phil Biggs that cuts to the plan were too drastic, and that enough progress had not been made towards the city’s long-term control plan.

“We’ve done mapping of our sewer system, we’ve got our street sweeper up and running,” Johnson said. “These are the kind of things that we want the EPA to know.”

Jeff Dillow, owner of Spare Time Recreation, thanked the council for the stormwater fee change, saying that it was closer to what other businesses were having to pay in the state.

“This is more in line with what they’re having to pay, they couldn’t believe what I was having to pay,” Dillow said. “For all the businesses, we’d do anything we can to help and we thank you. I hope you move ahead on this.”

First reading was given another component of the stormwater fee change, which would charge $10 to vacant properties with water service. Councilman Bob Cleary clarified that the fee would not be applied to grassy lots, as those are permeable surfaces that don’t add to the runoff problem.

The impounding issue

Ironton resident Rick McKnight was at the meeting expressing his support for the county Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities replacement levy, the school bond levy and also the new stormwater fee plan.

But McKnight said his main reason for visiting was to support an ordinance to establish an impound lot and towing fees for the city. McKnight had run two auctions of impounded cars in Coal Grove, which he said had a lot of success.

“We did two auctions in the past six months and we’ve raised $10,000,” McKnight said. “We’re just letting revenue walk out the door.”

However, the lot did raise some controversy. Mark and Jim Howard, who had helped supply towing services for the city, complained about the city deciding to go with other providers of city services.

“I think after all the work we’ve put into the city, now you’ve got these guys who want to jump in and take the whole thing for themselves,” Mark Howard said. “I don’t think that’s fair, I think it’s dirty. If there’s two towing, if there’s six of us towing, it’s all the same deal, why are they cutting us off?”

The Howards had been charging $55 for towing, but were asked, as were all the city’s providers, to lower their charge to $40, a request they refused. Mark Howard said that all of the providers had claimed that they could not provide services that cheaply, before some reconsidered without informing the other towing businesses.

Councilman Richard Price said that all of the city’s wrecker services should be allowed to participate if they wished.

The Howards agreed as long as the fee would be looked at again in a few months, as has been stated by Police Chief Jim Carey. As the lot plan was only receiving second reading at the meeting, there is time before the provider and rates are crystallized.

Other business

Later, the council voted to allow the mayor to accept the bid of Fields Excavating to repair the Railroad Street sewer. Their low bid was around $75,000, a little less than $20,000 cheaper than the next closest bidder.

During the meeting, the council also unanimously voted to support the MR/DD levy as well as formerly requesting that the Ohio Department of Transportation resume the bidding process for the Ironton-Russell Bridge.

The council also gave their unanimous support to the Ironton School Bond levy.

“We’re willing to do anything they want us to do,” councilman Huff said.

“This is not just a piece of paper.”